Also referred to as extraterrestrial colonization or space settlement, space colonization is a lasting habitation of human beings away from planet earth. After the Apollo mission to the moon was completed, the 1960s and 1970’s photographic analysis carried out by Mariner spacecraft in Mars, and the Martian surface’s probes Viking in 1970s, the development of Mars colony has been considered as one of the main objectives of space programs today. In his speech on July 1989 at the National Air and Space Museum during the 20th anniversary of the first human moon exploration, President Bush established the fiftieth-anniversary goal in 2019 for Mars exploration.
Even though that goal will not be achieved, President Trump restated the significance of the Mars mission as he set 2033 as the goal date for NASA to have the first spaceflight to Mars. Moreover, the SpaceX company owner Elon Musk revealed that he planned to have people explore Mars in a period of 10 years. This essay argues that Mars colonization is not a goal worth pursuing.
According to Golley (211), there are two questions that should be answered before establishing space colonies. The first question is ‘Can we design a space-colony ecosystem?’ secondly, ‘should we design space –colony ecosystems?” Based on ethical and practical issues raised by a number of ecologists regarding Mars colonization, the mass colonization goal is not worth pursuing.
Golley (211) posits that the establishment of space settlement is a primary aspect in the space voyage. However, space is unfriendly to human life. For humans to survive in space, they should develop and build ecological systems that are able to infinitely support human life.
This means converting space into a friendly ecosystem like earth. As an ecosystem, the planet earth consists of the lithosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere. The ecosphere can be divided into different ecosystems including tundra, oceans, and forests. The performance of ecosystems includes ecosystem production whereby chemical energy is produced from the conversion of solar energy through photosynthesis process, decomposition whereby organic materials are broken down into particles that can be reused to form other components, and stability which involves identification of consumer components used to maintain the development and stability of an ecosystem.
The earth colonies that human beings live were not developed or constructed by humans although they support human life. Designing involves both metaphysical and utilitarian elements considering the fact that an ecosystem consists of different living things and environment that depend on each other and cannot be separated. This implies that an ecosystem is the utmost unit of ecology. An ecosystem cannot function or exist alone. According to Golley (211), human beings cannot exist without an environment. This implies that developing space colony means developing a colony for both environment and humans. Considering that human beings do not have an immediate possibility of acquiring complete knowledge about ecological systems, designing space colony can only be approached experimentally by developing an Earth-like ecosystem that can support human settlement or converting mars environment to accommodate life. The experimentation approach is known as terraforming.
According to Collins (n.d) designing a space colony that supports life independently is difficult. To establish a colony that human beings can live and reproduce with minimal or no energetic and material inputs from the earth means supplying the basic requirements of human life. The establishment of mechanical systems to provide the living requirement of human is one of the instinctive approaches that can be utilized. However, the approach requires resupply of fuel, repairs, and parts. This implies that even though human life can be sustained in space, it is impossible to supply basic needs (Water, waste removal, food etc) that help in sustaining human life and maintain the mechanical system at an affordable cost (Collins n.d). Therefore, a space colony would act as a parasite on planet earth and would not be able to function independently. For this reason, the mars colonization goal is not worth pursuing.
Moreover, human beings are naturally social and their social aspects are cut out by most ecologists. However, this aspect has been considered by novelists, humanists, and social scientists. Mars colonization would be a homogeneous, confined, and highly controlled environment and this is different from earth environment that humans are used of. Such an environment that involves monitoring every entity and taking control over performance denies humans freedom that they enjoy on planet earth. Furthermore, humans are known to be innovative and creative which would be restricted in an environment whereby everything is monitored. The freedom the humans enjoy on earth cannot be compensated by space travel adventure. Therefore, mars colonization goal is not worth pursuing.
According to Fogg (416), Terraforming refers to the rearrangement of space environment by modifying its material composition or energy balance for the space to support human life. In the case of Mars, terraforming aims at providing mars with a thicker and breathable air at higher temperatures to sustain life. Even though this makes it possible for Mars colonies to be established, the reasons for developing space colonies makes it not worth the pursuit. As an example, humans want to design a space colony in order to escape from the seemingly insurmountable problems they face on earth. Such problems may include stresses from culture and security issues. Although most people are optimistic that mars would be better, it is not worth the struggle. This is because the same problems would still be there on Mars.
The advocates of Mars colonization hold on to the belief that the planet earth is finite and people will finally deplete its natural resources (Stoner 340). Once that is done people will need to get more resources from the space. Mars contains resources that are substantial on earth and according to Martian geology models the resources are in groups of deposits and can be easily mined. Colonizing Mars is, therefore, a goal worth pursuing since it provides a platform for exploitation of the resources in space. However, even though obtaining resources from mars sounds like an appealing pursuit economically, mining asteroids is cheaper than Mars colonization since they are not stuck at the gravity well base. Actually, reaching most asteroids resources requires less fuel than reaching the surface of Mars.
Space colonization advocates also claim that habitation in space provides humans with a realistic opportunity to explore with different political and social structures. According to Stoner (340), Mars is one of the most welcoming space destinations. Mars colonization is worth pursuing since to would allow people to take a break with history and it would provide an opportunity for the new generation to establish a new and vigorous society thus replenishing human spirit. However, this reason is not justifiable considering the fact that there are a number of isolated destination on earth that yet to be colonized. Although some unexplored places may not be hospitable, there are unexplored places like unpopulated deserts, arctic tundra, wilderness regions in failed cities, raft cities in international waters, and Antarctic ice shelves that are friendlier to humans than Mars surfaces. Moreover, Mars’s atmosphere consists of ninety-five percent carbon dioxide which is poisonous to human beings. Mars is also cold and is pummeled with radiation that is more severe than any other radiation on earth. For these reasons, the mars colonization goal is not worth pursuing.
While mars colonization would help in carrying out different experiments that would help in answering a number of significant scientific questions, it would violate the principle of Scientific conservation (Warmflash n.d). This is because human existence in mars is likely to cause a substantial destructive or invasive Martian environment investigation which is against the principle of scientific conservation clauses. The existence of human life in mars would mean seeding mars surface with earth life strains continuously. This would violate the principle of scientific conservation first clause. Most of the significant questions in mars revolve around Martian life. Contaminating Mars environment with earth life may make it difficult to answer the questions.
Warmflash (n.d) postulates that distance poses a challenge to Mars colonization. A colony that is far from the earth would require a substantial genetic diversity to avoid the risks of diseases that may be disastrous to small populations. Moreover, the fuel that is required to ship people to mars is high since it is located far from the planet earth.
In conclusion, Mars colonization goal is not worth pursuing. To support this argument, there are two significant questions that should be answered including “Can we design a space-colony ecosystem?” and “should we design space-colony ecosystems?” Space colony can be established but is it worth the pursuit? One of the reasons that Mars colonization is not worth the pursuit is that space is unfriendly human life. Moreover, it is difficult to establish an environment in space colony that sustains human life at a low cost, space colonization would deny human beings their social freedoms, most reasons that would prompt humans to colonize Mars are unjustifiable, and it would violate the principle of Scientific conservation clauses. These reasons lead to a conclusion the Mars colonization goal is not worth pursuing.